Brazil’s Carnival Parades

The World Cup is three months away in Brazil, and with the Summer Olympics taking place there in 2016, the country should be one of the top travel destinations in the world over the next two years. And of course, there’s always Rio de Janiero’s Carnival festivities each February. While you may know about the Rio parade, there are other cities that throw equally massive events, in even more epically gorgeous beach settings such as Bahia and Recife.

Musical and tropical, the Northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia is kind of like Brazil’s version of Negril, Jamaica. Gorgeous coastline, heavy African influences, and everything operates on tropical time. The capital city, Salvador, has an annual Carnival that rivals Rio’s, as far as Brazilians are concerned. The Salvador parade is spicy and steamy Afro-Brazilian style, with Yoruba chanters, percussion groups and huge blocks of partiers dancing their way down the streets. The most famous block is the all-male “Filhos de Gandhy”, meaning Sons of Gandhi. They don’t drink alcohol, but they do have lots of groupies.

Recife in the northeast is one of three cities that will host first-round US soccer matches this World Cup, and the city is gearing up to unveil its new stadium, and perennially fun loving lifestyle to an international audience. It is also the city that hosts the largest Carnival parade. Recife has its own distinctive Carnival symbol: the enormous “Galo da Madrugada”. Two million revelers follow this festive and folkloric Big Bird down Forte das Cinco Pontas to the harbor during the traditional Saturday morning parade while dancing to Frevo, Recife’s regional Carnival music.

Similar to Rio, São Paulo has a competition between the city’s top samba schools that is held in Anhembi Sambadrome. People from the community participate in costume and float creations for the face-off. The parade attracts around 30,000 spectators each year. Rio is one of the most popular destinations for Carnival festivities.

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